Eighty years ago, America entered a World War that would claim the lives of over 70 million people. In the United States over 16 million men and women left the safety of their homes and families with one goal in mind, to defeat evil so that they could return to their loved ones. They were called “The Greatest Generation.” Over 400,000 American soldiers, sailors and airmen gave the ultimate sacrifice and died serving our country in that war. Today, it’s estimated that only 240,000 WWII veterans are still living. On May 4th one of them was welcomed home by his Heavenly Father. Leonard Kirk was a nineteen-year-old country boy from Colora, Maryland when he was drafted into the Army. His troop carrier landed first in North Africa and next in Anzio, Italy where an officer took away his rifle and handed him a medic’s bag. The horrors he witnessed on the battlefields, and the cries of the wounded he treated, would haunt him for the rest of his life. The 45th Division eventually liberated Rome but he was captured just before the Battle of the Bulge. He would spend the rest of the war as a POW enduring frostbite and near starvation. It would be three decades before the term “post-traumatic-stress-disorder” would come into use. When Leonard returned to the States everyone assumed that he and other servicemen/women would simply go back to the lives they once knew. Leonard struggled to find his place but eventually found a career with a national food and vending company where his strong work ethic was rewarded with promotions to Baltimore, MD; Charlottesville, VA; York, PA; Manchester, NH and Landover, MD where his clients included IBM, FBI, US Supreme Court, CIA and even the White House. After retiring, Leonard reluctantly joined a POW support group where he finally opened up about the wounds he had always kept hidden. As he experienced healing he began to mentor other veterans and eventually was appointed by the Governor of Maryland as a Commissioner for POW’s for the Maryland Department of Veteran Affairs. He was honored to speak at the Walter Reed Hospital Annual Prayer Breakfast. Over the last twenty years he shared his POW experience in schools throughout Carroll County where students learned that freedom is never free, just because it is free. It is paid for with the service and sacrifice of everyone who wears the uniform. Leonard R. Kirk is survived by his wife of nearly 76 years, Goldie (McCall); children Nancy, Ross (Debbie), and Scott; ten grandchildren; eighteen great-grandchildren; his brother Robert (Ruth Ann); many nieces and nephews, and countless friends. He will be remembered for building his first home by hand and working extra jobs to support his young family. At the age of 86 he swam 100 miles in one year and to celebrate his 90th birthday he swam 90 lengths of an Olympic pool. He enjoyed nature, country farms, old cars and especially sausage gravy. He was generous with his time, talents and treasures, and being thankful every day for God’s blessings! A memorial service is planned for this summer and due notice of time and location will be given. The internment will be private. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to a Field Hospital at Ukraine Response (samaritanspurse.org). Leonard’s war story can be viewed at https://carrollmediacenter.org/episode/leonard-kirk-us-army-medic The Jeffrey N. Zumbrun Funeral Home, 6028 Sykesville Road, Eldersburg, MD are assisting the family with funeral arrangements. Online condolences welcomed at www.jnzumbrunfuneralhome.com.
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Field Hospital at Ukraine Response